Newt’s Crystal Ball

Digby writes on the current neo-con walkback from Condi Rice, mentioning that Newt Gingrich is quoted in an Insight magazine article as saying “… Miss Rice’s inexperience and lack of resolve were demonstrated in the aftermath of the North Korean launch of seven short-, medium-, and intermediate-range missiles in July. He suggested that Miss Rice was a key factor in the lack of a firm U.S. response.” Somehow, I figured that — considering the size of his mouth — Newt might have had some other words on Rice in the past and wondered how the judgment of the guy who claims we’re in World War III stood up to the test of time. I mean, she didn’t just become incompetent overnight, did she? I left this in the comments:

From Newt’s own Web site, a reprint of a New Yorker article from November 2001:

Then, with the arrival of George W. Bush, Gingrich got what every Washington policy advocate most covets: he got inside. His old friend Donald Rumsfeld, the Secretary of Defense, named him to the Defense Policy Board. Condoleezza Rice, the national-security adviser, is a former colleague of Gingrich’s at Stanford’s Hoover Institution, where he is a visiting fellow.

Such matters are the subject of much debate inside the Administration, and it is clear which team of senior advisers Gingrich is aligned with. Condoleezza Rice, he says, is a person for whom he has “tremendous respect,” adding, “I think she’ll do a very good job.” Rumsfeld is “one of the smartest people in government, very determined, very serious.” As for Secretary of State Colin Powell, Gingrich is diplomatic. “Colin is a very good diplomat, and a very good spokesman for America,” he says.

Still, he is encouraged by the degree of Rice’s influence over the President. “I think there’s a section of the State Department that will once a day come up with a genuinely bad idea, and I think the strength of this Administration so far is that those ideas seem to die somewhere around the national-security office.”

Such criticism poses the paradox that the people in charge of the war-Rumsfeld; his deputy, Paul Wolfowitz; Condoleezza Rice-are Gingrich’s closest allies.